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COVID-19 vaccines at Tuscaloosa VA give veterans hope for a better year
The Tuscaloosa News - 1/13/2021
Jan. 13—U.S. Navy veteran Robert Love was among the 30 veterans to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Administration Medical Center. He was not reluctant to take the vaccination.
"I don't think you should be hesitant at all. I had a friend who died from it (COVID-19). That really put an influence on me. My church is closed. I can't go anywhere and do anything. It is time to start doing something," Love said.
The VA Medical Center began vaccinations Tuesday. April Jones, the center's acting public information officer, said "We began our COVID-19 vaccine clinic Tuesday and vaccinated 30 outpatient veterans. We have 30 more scheduled for today and after the kinks are worked out, we will increase that throughput."
Jones said the VA center is concentrating on veterans 75 or older to begin with, this according guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control. After that, the vaccinations will include any veterans who are interested and the interest has been high.
"We have really gotten great positive feedback. Veterans are excited. They see this as a signal of hope for a better year to come," Jones said. "We have as many vaccines to give as there veterans who are interested. Demand is there and supply is there at this point. We get new shipments of the vaccine each day."
Army veteran John Thomas White also received his first dose of vaccine Wednesday. He was not worried about getting the shot.
"I'm for it to keep from spreading it to other people," White said.
Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center Director John Merkle said, "Getting the vaccine out to our veterans as quickly as possible is our goal because we feel this is what is going to change the tide with COVID-19 and the pandemic in the long run."
Merkle, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who flew medical evacuation helicopters, said that the veterans are excited about the vaccine and want to get it as soon as possible.
For those veterans who wish to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, the VA Medical Center is hosting a town hall meeting on its Facebook page at 10 a.m. Friday. Jones said veterans can tune in during the live event and ask questions or they can watch it later on the Facebook page.
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